The Full Wiki

More info on Unidad de Operaciones Especiales

Unidad de Operaciones Especiales: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spanish UOE
Spanish UOE Insignia
Active 1952 (officially 1967)-present
Country Spain
Branch Spanish Navy and Marines
Type Special Forces
Role Maritime Special Operations
Size 130 (approx.)
Part of Naval Special Warfare Command

(Mando de Guerra Naval Especial)

Garrison/HQ Tercio de Armada
Nickname La Unidad (The Unit)

Boinas Verdes (Green Berets)

Motto "Entra quien puede, no quien quiere"

(He who can enters, not he who wants)

The Unidad de Operaciones Especiales (Special Operations Unit - UOE) is the elite special operations force of the Spanish Navy and Marines. The unit is garrisoned in the Tercio de Armada in San Fernando, Cádiz, and is under the direct control of the Admiralty and Naval Special Warfare Command. It is thought to comprise approximately 100 men organized into three Operational Teams (Estoles) as well as command and support personnel.

The UOE is tasked with Special Operations in maritime, coastal and inland environments usually up to 50 km from the sea, though this is not a restriction and its teams are known to have operated deep inland. The unit's remit covers all aspects of modern Naval Special Warfare, including: Maritime Counter-Terrorism, shipboarding (MIO-Non Compliant), combat diving and swimming, coastal infiltration, airborne insertion, Special Reconnaissance, Direct Action, VIP protection and escort, and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR).

For these purposes the UOE employs a wide range of naval and other military platforms, including submarines, frigates, soft- and rigid-hull inflatable boats, land vehicles, as well as helicopters and airplanes for airborne insertions.



Origins of the UOE. (Source: Armada Española)

La Unidad ("The Unit"), as it is informally known in Spain, traces its roots to the Amphibious Climbing Company (Compañía de Escaladores Anfibios), established in 1952 as an all-volunteer unit tasked with coastal assaults and infiltration. In 1967, using the US Navy SEALs and British SBS/SAS as its guides, the unit expanded its mandate and range of skills to include combat diving, underwater demolitions, airborne insertions and direct action missions. In 1985 the UOE was re-designated COMANFES (Comando Anfibio Especial), but reverted to its original name in the early 1990s.

Today the UOE collaborates and trains closely with similar NATO units, such as the United States Navy SEALs, the Italian Navy's COMSUBIN, the French Commando Hubert, and the Portuguese DAE, as well as with special intervention units of the Spanish police forces (UEI and GEO).

The UOE is one of only three units in the Spanish military formally tasked with Special Operations, along with the Army's MOE and the Air Force's EZAPAC.

Selection & training

UOE commandos rendezvous with submarine.

After completing basic training and having served in a conventional unit, candidates aspiring to attain the coveted "green beret" must undergo comprehensive medical and psychological reviews as well as physical trials, and then, if approved, pass a rigorous selection course (Capacitación). The course is divided into Basic and Advanced phases and is staffed exclusively by UOE officers and NCOs, all of them fully qualified in Special Operations.

The Basic phase lasts for about four weeks and is aimed at testing the physical and psychological endurance of candidates through a gruelling combination of intense physical exercise, long-distance marches carrying up to 50 kg of weight, and numerous trials at sea and in mountain environments. The Advanced phase of selection lasts for about two months and, though the physical rigor of the course steadily increases, candidates also receive more specific training in basic naval commando skills:

Candidates are free to drop out of the course at any moment, from the first day to the last. Though some drop-outs result from physical injury (or even death), most instances are voluntary. The attrition rate for the UOE selection process can occasionally be as high as 100% and averages from 70-80%—the highest failure rate of any course in the Spanish armed forces. It is not uncommon that by the end of the course the instructor-candidate ratio is 3:1. The unit's harsh entrance criteria has furnished its official motto, "Entra quien puede, no quien quiere." ("He who can enters, not he who wants.")

Successful candidates are immediately sent to parachuting school upon arrival at the UOE and proceed to more advanced and specialised training in Naval Special Warfare skills (diving, sniping, intelligence, etc.).[1]


UOE team boards North Korean vessel. (Source: Armada Española)

The UOE always maintains one of its three operational teams on maximum alert (Alpha-1) for immediate deployment on a rotational basis.

The UOE was first deployed overseas in 1969, just two years after it was founded, when it spearheaded the evacuation of Spanish citizens from the former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea in Africa. Since then, the unit is reported to have participated in the fight against Basque ETA terrorists operating inside Spain[2] (though today this is strictly the preserve of civilian police forces).

More recently, among its publicly known missions, the UOE was deployed to the former Yugoslavia as part of the Spanish IFOR and SFOR contingents. Also, in December 2002, while participating in Operation Enduring Freedom in the Indian Ocean, UOE commandos stormed a suspect North Korean vessel, the So San, transporting a shipment of SCUD missiles destined for Yemen.[3] The unit is also known to have recently deployed its teams on undisclosed missions in the Middle East.

The UOE is a central element of the Spanish Maritime Counter-Terrorism capability.


UOE commandos with German Heckler & Koch G36KE carbines.

Weapons held at the UOE armory include, but are not limited to, the following:

See also


  1. ^ "UOE official Navy website". Retrieved 2008-12-07.  
  2. ^ Elite Forces: The World's Most Formidable Secret Armies, by Richard M. Bennett (London: 2003).
  3. ^ "Spanish official details high seas drama". December 11, 2002. Retrieved 2007-04-25.  

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address